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Ear to the Ground

Most Bankruptcies Caused by Medical Bills

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Posted on Jun 6, 2009
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A new study reveals that through-the-roof medical bills are the cause of more than 60 percent of bankruptcies in the U.S. From 2001 to 2007, bankruptcies associated with medical debt increased by 50 percent, and 75 percent of the families surveyed actually had health insurance.

CNN:

This year, an estimated 1.5 million Americans will declare bankruptcy. Many people may chalk up that misfortune to overspending or a lavish lifestyle, but a new study suggests that more than 60 percent of people who go bankrupt are actually capsized by medical bills.

Bankruptcies due to medical bills increased by nearly 50 percent in a six-year period, from 46 percent in 2001 to 62 percent in 2007, and most of those who filed for bankruptcy were middle-class, well-educated homeowners, according to a report that will be published in the August issue of The American Journal of Medicine.

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By Roseville chiropractor mn, September 11, 2011 at 11:15 am Link to this comment

This is crazy medical bill will never go down.  We need
less medications, less drugs and more person
responsibility for your OWN health…

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By Medical Billing and Coding, June 7, 2011 at 1:13 am Link to this comment

The health system throughout the developed countries continues to exhibit stress and strain both within the facility and throughout the modern family. This is the single factor of concern for many homes who simply cannot afford the spiraling costs of health insurance.

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By Richard, July 27, 2009 at 6:05 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Would you people PLEASE START CITING THE REPORTS, so the rest of us can use them.  How the hell do you think we are going to spread understanding of the issues if you don’t provide the proof we can use to further the conversation.
Jeez!  If you’re going to publish publically, do it correctly.

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By KDelphi, June 9, 2009 at 1:55 pm Link to this comment

byparteons—Excellent post.

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By bpartoens, June 8, 2009 at 7:28 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Why is there so little mainstream news coverage of Max (I took over $400,000.00 from health insurance and pharma corporations) Baucus calling for police to arrest single payer supporters? These doctors and nurses were only trying to get a seat at the table and he denied them that. It is obvious he requires"donations” for seats.

Finally several organizations are writting about one of my favorite greedy players in the health care problem, William McGuire formerly of United Health. Most of them mention his $1.1 golden parachute, but they usually fail to mention he was “let go” due to a backdating stock scandal that was to net him more than $1.6 billion.That kind of money does not come from thin air, it mainly is acheived by denying claims. it has been calculated that 1 in every 700 dollars spent on UHC premiums (during his tenure), went into William mcGuires pocket. He did not see any patients, cure anyones illness, or cast any briken bones. He merely ran the corp. that brokered the care.

Americans forget that most of our health insurance organizations are corporations. By law corporations can only consider the interest of their shareholders. Clearly it is legally bound to put it’s bottome line before everything else, even the public good. Why in heavens name would any one(including elected officials), main date Americans be required to purchase health insurance corporations that’s main objective is to make profit for shareholders not to provide fair and equitable payouts in claims (why the heck do we need them as middlemen anyway?)? One reason we continue this system is that these corporations donate large sums of cash to our elected officials. These elected officials have a premium health care plan that we the people pay for. These officals even get automatic raises and are talking about taxing benefits of those lucky Americans who have them. If we truly want to come up with a fair and working plan (HR 676), we need to remove the elected officals health care plan and automatic raises. Since when should the employee have better benefits than the employer? They still are supposed to represent the people who elected them aren’t they?

Inacting a single payer health care system would be a bailout of the middle and working class. Small business would be able to attract talented workers who now often take jobs they don’t like for the health care coverage so that something like strep throat doesn’t bankrupt the family. Auto companies would not go broke paying health care benefits for worker and retirees to the tune of over $1600+ per vehicle. Doctors would be able to practice in smaller offices w/o the worry of having a large staff of workers to try and get the bills paid by a boundless number of health insurance corporations who play a waiting game with everyone involved.

We need to tell Washington that everyone in this country has value. We all deserve to have access to health care, from the person who works at the local cafe to person elected to reprsent us in DC.  A healthy America will lead to a prosperous America. Greed is not good. When health insurnace corporations give large donations to elected officals to ensure the present system continues, that is now free markets working THAT IS BRIBERY. If we want to continue our present system we should replace the clear street light in front of the Capitol with red ones. We then would know what our elected officials were, all that is left to do is to negotiate with them.

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By KDelphi, June 7, 2009 at 8:56 pm Link to this comment

ocjim—The GOP and Right Wing shouldve saved their money. The Dems and Blue Dogs did it for them.

In 2006, then-candidate Obama said that , what was needed to pass single payer health care was to “take back the presidency and the HOuse and the Senate for Democrats”...

YOur turn Obama…???
“Competition in a free mkt” for life and death measures like health care or war is immoral.

It is not a “disservice” to tell other people what some of us have experienced in countries with higher standards of living for the majority—it is a disservice to pretend that a plan like the Massachusets model will work at all. 2-3 years after enacted, Blue Dogs and GOP will be screaming “I told you so” about the costs! Setting themselves up for failure…people are SICK of the insurance industry ! They dont need to be rewarded for letting people die!

Natl plans work everywhere in the civilized world.

The rest are just excuses. Excuses for “re-negotiating NAFTA”, etc, I can almost understand politicaly.

This is life or death. So is Af-Pak. Obama fails on these issues.

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By jacksmith, June 7, 2009 at 7:39 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

ALL HANDS ON DECK!

Howard Dean and the Democrats are correct.

“a” (Toothy, Robust, Affordable, Immediate, Triggerless, Medicare-Like ) “public health insurance option” (For All Who Want It) “is more important than bipartisanship, and Democrats should pass health-care legislation that includes the option with 51 votes if necessary.”

“Democrats should have “no intention” of working with Republicans if it’s not the strongest possible legislation that could be passed with a simple majority.” (Howard Dean)

CONTACT CONGRESS and your representatives Now! And tell them you demand ALL of the minimum requirements above. This is the time for maximal, toothy, sustained pressure on Congress to get this done. Be creative. But be relentless.

This is what WE THE PEOPLE gave the Democrats all that power to do for ALL of us.

In medicine and healthcare there is only one acceptable standard. And that standard is the HIGHEST level of EXCELLENCE! you can provide for everyone. Nothing less is acceptable for a precious human life.

And the White House is right. “Good health care reform is essentially good economic policy.”  (Christina Romer)

BUT HEAR ME WELL! Just as I warned you before 911. Before the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And before the US and Global economic crisis.

I must tell you now that healthcare reform is now a critical matter of NATIONAL SECURITY. A-H1N1 (Swine Flu) was yet another loud WAKE-UP! call. And there is MUCH! worse lurking, and poised to strike at any moment. Working against the clock, many of us have known this for a long time now. And this is why we have been pushing so hard for so long without fully saying why. But Congress and the American people are literally running out of time.

I’ll tell you more later. But get healthcare reform done NOW!.

SPREAD THE WORD!

God Bless All Of You

jacksmith—WORKING CLASS

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Ed Harges's avatar

By Ed Harges, June 7, 2009 at 4:20 pm Link to this comment

I took a walk today, in a neighborhood whose economy is totally overshadowed by a hospital. I had lunch in the hospital cafeteria, and it was an oasis of calm, luxury, and plenty in this destitute barrio. I had pasta tossed with a scrumptious fresh pesto.

Then I went outside on the street. There was virtually no local economy, beyond check-cashing, payday loans, and bail bonds services.

The medical elite in this country resembles the financial elite on Wall Street. They may not make quite as much money, but they make a hell of a lot of money relative to most ordinary people, and they live in a bubble surrounded by hostile and desperate hordes of Americans who might once have had the jobs that have all been shipped to China and Mexico. A country that consists of a small elite of doctors and bankers and hedge fund managers, amidst a vast surplus population indebted to the former, is not a healthy country.

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By MarthaA, June 7, 2009 at 2:49 pm Link to this comment

I’m still hanging out for Single Payer Health Care.  If we get it, the people are going to have to force it.

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By GW=MCHammered, June 7, 2009 at 9:15 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Health (s)care, the (ill)legal system and (whored)Congress all pick your pocket using hold-em-over-a-barrel extortion. Nationalize first the federal government then health and law. Constitutional governance: Power to the People.

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By Leefeller, June 7, 2009 at 6:57 am Link to this comment

Medicare buy in makes sense and of course it would be a slow process. Opportunists will be hammering and chipping at it like what they have been trying to do to Social Security from the inception.  The National medical plan may never be what it possibly be, for the insurances companies similar to the bail out folks, will be unaccountable and entitled to what ever they can take.

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By Purple Girl, June 7, 2009 at 5:01 am Link to this comment

Although a Huge supporter a nationized program- dare I say Socialized medicine-I’m getting a bit annoyed with my fellow single payer advocates for setting unrealitistic expectations when discussing this issue.
Supporters of conyers HR 676 often fail to mention the fact the plan is one of gradual conversion-over about a 10 yr period. Thus allowing time for Workers to be absorbed into the nationalized system or reduced through attrition.
worse yet are the ones who don’t even mention this Logical process fro cnversion- but insinuate that a single payer alternative can be done overnight.This misinforms those they are trying to persuade. There is no way we can suddenly , upon a bill signed switch over. Not only would systems and procedures need to be devised and organized, so would those diplaced workers in private insurance corps.Not to mention the havoc of the influx of people to healthcare providers (Offices, hospitals, LTC..)
Teh Far left Zealots of Single payer are doing US all a grave disservice by misrepresenting 676 and the realistic complexity of immediate conversion to ‘socialized’ medicine.
What I am hoping to see is a public buy in option to say Medicare, regardless of age or pre-exisiting conditions. This would not only open this up to a wider base of payees, but would truely afford real competition in the Free market. Private Insurers would have to then offer competitve premiums and services against a system devised ‘For & By the people’. No where does it state in our Founding Documents that ‘The People’ must be relegated to merely consumers and Not be afforded the right to be a provider.It amazes me so called ‘Free marketeers’ expound the virtues of the American Free market, yet blatantly reject the innate concept that The People have the right to access it as a collective entity. Would they prefer if we add ‘Inc’ Or ‘Corp’ to the Program title. In fact if our Healthcare option were to actually make a profit- couldn’t we use that to at least pay down some of the Deficit?
The Private healthcare Corps are not only duping The People on the substance of what a Public option would entail- they are intentionally misconstueing the Facts to what Our Founders intended.It is not just our form of Gov’t which is ‘Of,For & By the people’ but also OUR access to the Free Market as providers of Goods and services.

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By knobcreekfarmer, June 7, 2009 at 4:22 am Link to this comment

didn’t michael moore tell us all this a few years ago? hello!

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By ExAm, June 7, 2009 at 1:11 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I left this banana republic, in part, because of health care costs.  My health care costs are $320/month for my four person family and they don’t have a clue what a deductible or a copay is.

My wife had the (good fortune?) of breaking her wrist in Los Angeles and breaking her foot here.  they involved the same medical procedure and we saw the difference in health care first hand.  Los Angeles was a scam, even with my $5,000 deductible.  The insurance firm told us where to go and it was a 2 hour walk in surgery.  The bill came out to $47,000 dollars and was declined by the insurance company - you can guess who they came after!  Here the doctor called the ambulance, she went to the hospital, had a private room and the same surgury.  They kept her there for two days to make sure that she was recovering correctly and charged me nothing.

I hate the American government and from here can see what lying, corrupt, criminals they are - Democrats and Republicans alike.  I only wish that the people would wake from their zombie states and attack with pitchforks - maybe they’re simply to satiated by food intake.

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By Leefeller, June 6, 2009 at 6:49 pm Link to this comment

During the campaign Obama mentioned something about limiting the power of lobbyists. Castration would make them walk funny, but I believe Single Payer was never on the table and if the powers that be have their way, it never will. Simple but true, just follow the money, out of the peoples pockets into the elites.

If the people really had their own lobbyists who represented the people, things would not be different, because the people cannot agree on an one thing.

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By ocjim, June 6, 2009 at 6:06 pm Link to this comment

Our health care system is pitiful yet we still talk of patchwork reform still keeping the current privatized mess.

Health care reform is probably one of the most vital if not the most vital changes our country needs—for fairness, for equal economic footing, for personal freedom and for universal well-being. Obama is speaking that language but he seems to be leaving its implementation up to the US Congress.

When was the last time our members of Congress collectively did something noble for their constituents? I’m hard put for an answer, but I would say LBJs Great Society legislation in the 1960s.

The Viet Nam War, the succession of Nixon and Reagan, and the decline of union power seemed to end Congress’s penchant for helping the middle class. Lobbyists for the well-heeled have filled in the union void.

Anyway, getting back to my power-elite narrative, let me point out one of the early “swift boat” assaults, most likely stealthily funded by vested interest backers, namely the health care industry:

The right-wing group, Conservatives for Patients’ Rights (CPR), aired a 30-minute paid advertisement titled “The End of Patients’s Rights: The Human Consequenses of Government Run Health Care.” It was hosted by former CNN reporter, Gene Randall, and featured “horror stories” designed to lessen public support for US health care reform.

The spot had the appearance of a “60 Minutes” special and was organized by a former CEO of Columbia/HCA Healthcare, Rick Scott, who was scuttled as CEO due to fraud and kickback charges. Scott was part of the reigning “profit-above-all-else” health care culture and was accused of defrauding Medicare and giving kickbacks to doctors.


Fresh from their mindless, but brutal racist attacks on Obama’s Supreme Court justice nominee, right wing interests like the unelected mercenary dual of hired-gun doughboy, Rush Limbaugh, and want-a-be right-wing leader, Newt Gingrich, have jumped on board the CPR bandwagon.

Right-wing propaganda will assure more polarization of Americans, continuing ugly and baseless arguments against reform, and paid-for gains by powerful lobbyists of the health care industry.

So, which do you prefer: Entrust your body to health care managers who care only for profit or promote a one-payer government system which doesn’t restrict coverage.

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By the worm, June 6, 2009 at 2:41 pm Link to this comment

-) The current health care ‘debate’ between two false options (the ‘public option’ and the ‘pure private option’) results from the classic republican (and, in this case, dino) strategy of ‘framing’ the discussion early, giving the media and citizens the ‘story line’ for coverage and discussion, then attacking anything associated with government (e.g. the public option), thus destroying one false option and leaving the status quo as the only apparently viable option. 
-) Neither option addresses the 28-30% overhead represented by the health insurance industry; instead, citizens are subjected to dog and pony shows about 1 and 1/2% savings thru ‘automated record keeping’ and ‘private sector pledges’ to contain cost! The primary source of waste – insurance industry practices – is ‘off the table’.  As a result of the so-far successful ‘framing’, all talk is about trivial changes to a health care system that is profoundly broken.
-) As now framed, the ‘debate’ does not represent ‘change you can believe in’’; it represents smoke and mirrors. 
-) Like the approach to the ‘financial system melt down’, the ‘solution’ seems to be ‘protect the institutions that make the mess’; masquerade the protections as ‘changes’; call it done; move on. Both pseudo-options maintain the 28-30 % waste factor now going to the heath insurance industry and one will increase overhead cost by adding a ‘public provider’.  People understand neither current pseudo-option will result in cost reduction or expanded coverage (both of which are obama’s stated priorities).
-) They also know, when either false-option is selected, attempts to expand coverage will then be immediately ‘smacked down’, as too costly (increased taxes & increased budget deficits & increased premiums & increased co-pays). Again, blocking expanded coverage.
-) They also know, if the additional ‘public provider’ option is selected, one of two scenarios are likely. Scenario One: health care industry lobbying results in a very very limited ‘public provider’ option.  Either early on (e.g. at reconciliation) or overtime, the ‘public provider’ option becomes so weakened as to assure the private sector has no meaningful ‘government’ competition.  Thus, the attempt to ‘keep the private sector honest’ – another obama ‘goal’ – will be defeated.
-) Scenario Two: health care industry lobbying results in a doomed ‘public provider’ by ‘rigging the deck’, ensuring those who cannot be profitably served by the ‘private sector’ are moved to the ‘public provider’.  Overtime, the ploy (easily accomplished through the ‘annual regulation process’) allows private sector health insurance providers to proclaim they’re ‘more efficient’ and ‘less costly’ than the ‘government alternative’.  Thus, chocking off future funding for the ‘public provider’ and effectively limiting coverage – again, confounding an obama’s goal. 
-) It’s all ‘writing on the wall’; we’ve seen it time and again; most people ‘get it’.
-) If only false choices remain, obama will be defending non-change as a great leap forward; the health insurance industry will be laughing, celebrating, relaxing back into the status quo; and citizens can keep paying more for less health care – and going broke.
-) A much better option:  Take the 28-30% overhead used under the current system to deny coverage and bloat profits, and put it to work providing actual medical care!  In other words, the single payer option.

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